OCM break with tradition, pick Liu Ying, Khairul Anuar as Tokyo Olympic flag-bearers


KUALA LUMPUR – Mixed doubles shuttler Goh Liu Ying and archer Khairul Anuar Mohamad have been given the honour of being Malaysia’s flag-bearers at the Tokyo Olympics to be held from July 23-Aug 8.

Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria said this would be the first time that the country would have two flag-bearers at the Olympics.

“After taking various factors into consideration, the Executive Board has selected Liu Ying and Khairul Anuar,” he told a press conference after chairing the meeting at Wisma OCM today.

Liu Ying, 31, ranked seventh in the world with partner Chan Peng Soon, will be making her second Olympic appearance in Tokyo after the pair won a silver medal at Rio 2016.

Recurve archer Khairul Anuar, 29, who is the 2019 World Archery Championships silver medallist and also the first Malaysian archer to be given the honour of being the flag-bearer, will be vying for his first podium finish after featuring in the 2012 London and 2016 Rio editions.

Former men’s singles world number one shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei was the flag-bearer at the Rio Games while diving queen Pandelela Rinong and ace track cyclist Mohd Azizulhasni Awang had the honour of carrying the Malaysian flag at the 2012 London and 2008 Beijing editions respectively.

Meanwhile, Norza said that OCM would organise a workshop for all the athletes, coaches, national sports associations and relevant stakeholders involved in the Tokyo Olympics so as to enhance preparations following the latest playbook released by the organisers, which includes stricter safety measures to curb the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The measures will be very strict under the bubble concept and movements of athletes will be very limited, they can’t even go to nearby towns. But, what we are insisting on is that the bubble should start from here.. before we fly out. There was a discussion on our movement and transport, whether we want to take a chartered flight or a normal flight. These are the things currently being discussed with relevant stakeholders,” he said.

Commenting on the below-par performances of the national divers at the ongoing World Cup in Tokyo, Norza said the divers were still coming to terms with adapting to the competitive environment as this was their first tournament since training and competitions were halted by the pandemic for more than a year.

He, however, hoped that they would reach peak form by July.

Norza also said that the 2021 Vietnam SEA Games Organising Committee had confirmed a final list of 40 sports and 526 events, which will see 28 events introduced and 30 events scrapped.

“Out of the 10 events that we appealed for, they (only) accepted the women’s 50kg kumite event in karate,” he said.